The trick is in the vodka! Being only 80-proof, most of the vodka evaporates in the baking process, meaning the crust dough gets the liquid it need to be formed, but most of it will not stay, leaving you with a perfect, flaky crust. And, vodka is, by definition, colorless and odorless, so once it's baked, you'll forget it was ever in there.
If you prefer not to use vodka, swap it for cold water.
Originally titled Foolproof Pie Dough, Cooks Illustrated, November 2007
Step 1: Ingredients
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour - make sure you measure it right!
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into small bits
- 1/4 cup cold vodka
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Food processor, dough cutter, or fork & knife
Step 2: Mash It Up
Add butter and shortening and process until dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (there should be no uncoated flour).
Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade.
Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses.
Empty mixture into medium bowl.
Step 3: Add Cold Liquids
With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.
Step 4: Wrap It Up
Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.
Step 5: Good to Go
Roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap to prevent dough from sticking to the counter and your roller. It also prevents the need to add more flour, which can make your dough tough. (hm, "dough" and "tough" - looks like they should rhyme. . . ) Make sure you pull any folds out of the plastic every few rolls to ensure that the dough remains smooth.
To fit this in a standard 9" pie dish, roll it out to a 12" circle. If your dough has gotten soft or warmer in the time you have been rolling it out, slide it into the freezer for 10 minutes to get it firm again.
Carefully transfer your dough to the pie plate by folding the dough gently into quarters and unfolding in the pan, or by wrapping it around your rolling pin and gently unrolling it into the pan.. Working around the circumference of the pie plate, ease dough the dough into the corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand.
If you're making a single crust pie, crimp the edges decoratively with your fingers or the flat side of a fork at even intervals and add the filling according to your recipe's instructions.
If you're making a double-crust or latticed pie, leave dough that overhangs the lip of plate in place, and follow recipe directions.
Hooray! You made perfect pie crust! Wait for the oohs and ahhs to roll in.
Step 6: Pre Baking
Poke a bunch of holes in the crust with a fork. This prevents air pockets from distorting the shape.
Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights. I never have pie weights around (having never purchased any), but I do always have some sort of small hardware on hand. Here I used lag bolts in place of pie weights.
Bake at 375oF (190oC) for about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until golden.